Portillo's, known for its hot dogs and beef sandwiches, is expected soon to be flipping pancakes with its newest restaurant concept.
Portillo's has submitted plans at the village of Downers Grove and city of Batavia to launch its new breakfast concept, R.J.'s Cafe.
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In Downers Grove, the new eatery, expected to serve lunch and breakfast, would be located at 3000 Oak Grove Road in the former Bakers Square restaurant, said Village Planner Damir Latinovic. He said Portillo's, which owns the property, submitted a permit to renovate the building that has been vacant for close to two years.
In Batavia, the new breakfast place is planned for the former Bennigan's restaurant at 531 N. Randall Road, just south of Portillo's Hot dogs.
"They're taking all the steps necessary to get it open as soon as possible," said Batavia City Administrator Bill McGrath.
The new eatery is expected to open in the first half of the year. The building is expected to look like an old Italian Villa, he added.
Assistant City Administrator Randy Recklaus said Portillo's has done well in Batavia. "It's exciting that they are trying out their new concept here. It's a great sign. We're hoping it's an indication of the comeback of the local economy," he added.
Portillo's did not return calls to talk about the new project.
Dick Portillo started his hot dog empire in 1963 on North Avenue in Villa Park. He continued to add new concepts, including Barney's and Banrelli's Pasta Bowl, which first opened in 1993 in Schaumburg. Key Wester Fish & Pasta House and Luigi's House were later added as other dining options.
The company has grown into the Midwest's largest privately owned restaurant group.